She Creature (Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature) (2000)

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Released 16-Jul-2002

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Introduction
Menu Animation & Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
Audio Commentary-Stan Winston & Shane Mahan
Featurette-Making Of
Gallery-Photo
Trailer-Creature Features; Anaconda; Godzilla
Filmographies-Cast & Crew
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 86:23
RSDL / Flipper RSDL Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Sebastian Gutierrez
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Rufus Sewell
Carla Gugino
Jim Piddock
Reno Wilson
Mark Aiken
Fintan McKeown
Aubrey Morris
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $36.95 Music David Reynolds


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.0 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Swedish
Turkish
German Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    She Creature is a very unusual film, combining elements from both the horror genre and the psychological thriller. It was filmed in 18 days and made for release on cable. This is not to belittle the film, for it is actually very good.

    From what I can gleam from multiple sources, Stan Winston, the person responsible for the creatures in Terminator 2, Aliens, Jurassic Park and many others, has now set up his own production company. In combination with Lou Arkoff and Colleen Camp, he has set out to recapture the feel of the famous 1950's classic horror and sci-fi movies of Sam Arkoff, who just happens to be Lou Arkoff's father. They contacted a number of writer/directors and asked them to submit a script under a particular title, in this case the script of Sebastian Gutierrez was chosen. You can read an interview with Sebastian concerning the film here. This project is called The Creature Feature and includes five films: Teenage Caveman, The Day The World Ended, How To Make A Monster, Earth vs. The Spider and of course Mermaid Chronicles Part 1: She Creature. Yes this is Part One and Sebastian does mention in the above interview that they are planning to make Part Two.

    The project had a number of restrictions imposed on it, including a very short shooting time of 18 days and a fairly limited budget. Certainly in Hollywood terms $3,500,000 is not much. It also had to include a creature, one that the magical boys from Stan Winston's production company could get their teeth into.

    The end result proves that with a good script, good actors and good support people you can produce a very good film for relatively little money. The film is set at the beginning of the 1900's, starting in Ireland and then quickly moving to a beautiful sailing ship for the rest of the film. Rufus Sewell (Dark City, A Knight's Tale) plays a con man, Angus Shaw, running a scam at the local carnival, involving a fake mermaid played by Carla Gugino. Both play their parts extremely well and in particular Carla Gugino just about carries the entire film on her shoulders. They meet up with a strange and haunted man (Aubrey Morris) who invites them to his house, where he reveals that he has a real live mermaid. Our con man, with dollar signs in his eyes, tries to talk Captain Woolrich into selling his captive mermaid. Captain Woolrich refuses but of course this does not stop Angus and he hatches a plot to kidnap the mermaid and ship her off to America where he will make his fortune. The mermaid is played by Rya Kihlstedt, who despite a number of handicaps - such as being under the water for most of the film, having almost no dialogue and being naked - all of which would slow down most people, gives a riveting performance. Once they are on the ship and far out to sea, they discover that while the mermaid seems at least partially human from the waist up and extremely attractive as well, she is a creature of the sea and lives by very different rules.

    The camera work, the editing and the rest of a very talented supporting cast all come together to produce a very credible and in some parts scary psychological/horror thriller.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The majority of this film is very dark and appears to have been shot through a filter giving a very red/brown look to most of the scenes. Other than one outdoor scene the majority of the footage is either at night or indoors. Indoors are lit only by candles and lanterns. This does add to the ambience and feel of the film and did remind me quite a lot of Dark City in it's style.

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced, we have quite a reasonable transfer.

    Sharpness is good, not great but certainly acceptable. The black levels are just a touch above true black and the shadow detail has suffered slightly as a result. Again not too bad but not perfect. There is no low level noise.

    The colours are muted in line with the dark theme and somewhat submerged below the overall tint. There are no noise problems in the colours.

    There are no major MPEG artefacts. There is a small amount of aliasing present which can be seen at 57:31 on the cross-hatch port covers to the left of scene. There is a small amount of grain visible throughout the film but no problems with marks or scratches.

    There are a number of subtitles on this disc. The English subtitles are fairly accurate only leaving out the occasional word. Oddly the commentary and other special features have subtitles available in a number of the other languages, but not English.

    There is a layer change somewhere in this film, but with the number of dark scenes and transitions I am afraid that I could not locate it.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks. A Dolby Digital 5.0 English, a Dolby Digital 5.0 German and a Dolby Digital 2.0 (with surround flag) for the English Audio Commentary. I listened to the English main soundtrack and the commentary.

    Dialogue quality is excellent throughout, as was the audio sync.

    The music by David Reynolds works extremely well. It moves along with the film, highlighting the tension and then increases tempo with the action.

    The surrounds are certainly active with both ambience and the music but there are no split surround effects.

    The subwoofer supported the soundtrack but never really shook the house at any stage.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    For a direct to cable release there are a surprising number of extras.

Menu

    The menu is presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the surround bit set. It has a rather nice animated section on the right that is from the film.

Audio Commentary - Stan Winston and Shane Mahan

    Here Stan Winston and co-producer Shane Mahan talk about the film. There are some interesting parts, particularly about the special effects used to produce the mermaid. They do basically give away every secret. Overall pretty good, though they do get distracted occasionally.

Featurette - Making Of (2:28)

    A very short making of featurette with a short interview with Sebastian Gutierrez and a very quick look at the production of some of the special effects. Presented at 1.78:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Photo Gallery

    There are four sections to the photo gallery, which you navigate using the left and right arrow buttons with the enter button taking you back to the menus. The four sections are: Monster sketches (14 pictures), though there are actually only 7 with a long shot and then a close-up of each, Building the monster (13), Behind the scenes (53) and Production stills (57). My only complaint is that there is no indication of the start and end of the loop, you can just keep pushing the arrow in one direction and go round and round. The screen is 1.33:1 and the photos are a variety of shapes and sizes.

Trailer - Creature Features (2:50)

    This trailer covers the five films mentioned above. Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack.

Trailer - Anaconda (1:53)

    Presented at 1.33:1 and accompanied by a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, this trailer attempts to garner dome interest for this flop.

Trailer - Godzilla(r) (1:49)

    Yep, that little (r) is on the menu selection as well, I didn't know that they had the rights to the word Godzilla. Presented at 1.78:1 and accompanied by a rather spectacular Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.

Filmographies

    Covering the careers of Carla Gugino, Rya Kihlstedt, Rufus Sewell and Stan Winston. Text pages with a photo of the person navigated by the arrow buttons, once you enter this section you can step through everyone's filmography with just the arrow keys.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film has been released in both Region 1 and Region 2. The Region 2 version seems basically identical to our version and there are some minor differences in comparison with the Region 1.

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:

    The Region 4 version of this film misses out on:

    There being nothing major in the differences I would give Region 4 the nod thanks to our increased resolution and the lack of the dreaded 3:2 pull-down artefact.

Summary

    A fresh look at an old theme with some great actors and performances. At times this is a dialogue driven film, unusual for a horror flick, but this is far better than one driven by a string of gory killings - not that this film does not have the occasional gory bit. Overall I would highly recommend at least a rental for this enjoyable romp on the sea.

    Video is good.

    Audio is a little disappointing.

    The extras, in particular the commentary, are a nice inclusion.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Terry McCracken (read my bio)
Wednesday, September 18, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDSkyworth 1050p progressive scan, using RGB output
DisplaySony 1252q CRT Projector, Screen Technics matte white screen 16:9 (223cm). Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre.
AmplificationSony STR-DB1070
SpeakersB&W DM305 (mains); CC3 (centre); S100 (surrounds); custom Adire Audio Tempest with Redgum plate amp (subwoofer)

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